Agronomic practices for improving gentle remediation of trace-element-contaminated soils
Janssen, Jolien Olga
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The last few decades have seen the rise of Gentle soil Remediation Options (GRO), which notably include in situ contaminant stabilization (“inactivation”) and plant-based (generally termed “phytoremediation”) options. For trace element (TE)-contaminated sites, GRO aim to either decrease their labile pool and/or total content in the soil, thereby reducing related pollutant linkages. Much research has been dedicated to the screening and selection of TE-tolerant plant species and genotypes for application in GRO. However, the number of field trials demonstrating successful GRO remains well below the number of studies carried out at a greenhouse level. The move from greenhouse to field conditions requires incorporating agronomical knowledge into the remediation process and the ecological restoration of ecosystem services. This review summarizes agronomic practices against their demonstrated or potential positive effect on GRO performance, including plant selection, soil management practices, crop rotation, short rotation coppice, intercropping/row cropping, planting methods and plant densities, harvest and fertilization management, pest and weed control and irrigation management. Potentially negative effects of GRO, e.g. the introduction of potentially invasive species, are also discussed. Lessons learnt from long-term European field case sites for aiding the choice of appropriate management practices and plant species.